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2?4                 HISTORY OF PERSIA                CHAP.
Steele, who had travelled overland from Aleppo to
India/that in Persia they might feel sure "of the vent
of much cloth, in regard their country is cold, and
that men, women and children are clothed therewith
some five months in the year." He also added that
silk could be purchased 50 per cent cheaper than at
With admirable initiative, it was therefore decided by
the factors at Surat to send Steele and a factor named
Crouther to Isfahan to obtain a farman or "order" from
Shah Abbas. They were furnished also with letters to
Sir Robert Sherley, who had recently returned to Persia.
In A.D. 1614 these pioneers of commerce started off from
India, and, thanks to Sherley, three identical farmans were
obtained from Shah Abbas, ordering the governors of the
ports to aid any British vessels. One of these was sent
to Jask, which was selected because the Portuguese held
The Journey of Connock^ A.D. 1616-1617*—The James
was selected for the venture and Connock was appointed
leader of the expedition. Sailing from Surat he was well
received at Jask and posted ahead to Isfahan. There, to
his disappointment, he learned that the Shah was absent
on the Turkish frontier. Undiscouragcd, however, he
persuaded William Robbins, an Englishman who lived
at Isfahan and dealt in jewels, to accompany him to the
royal camp. He was received with much favour by the
Shah, who drank to the health of King James on his
bended knee and issued a most satisfactory farman. In
return Connock promised to send for peacocks and
turkeys, which were unknown in Persia, and also for
toy dogs, which he terms <c little little women's curs,"
The Persian Question of the Period,—The Persian ques-
tion, from the point of view of the English, wn,s the silk
question. Silk was a royal monopoly, and the Shah was
anxious to export it through the Persian Gulf for two
reasons; in order to deprive the Turks of the customs
which they levied, and because he hoped for a better
price. Sir Robert Sherley had attempted to persuade
Phillip III. (who, it must be remembered, ruled over